mrry (Happy New Year)
Blog Caveat Emptor 13/Oct/2005

Two things that are typically absent from this blog are (i) consumer advice, and (ii) a rat's arse given about web standards. For one night only, then!

Yesterday afternoon was spent not watching The O.C. then aggravating my full-time-employed friends by emailing them to tell them about it, but rather spending a couple of hours setting up a wireless network for one of my friends. For once, it wasn't Bulldog that was the problem (in fact, they were helpful in providing all of the necessary configuration details over the phone, although these should probably have been provided with the installation, but go figure). In fact, within ten minutes, it was possible to set up the ADSL gateway and surf the web through an Ethernet cable, all using my friend's iBook.

Next step, obviously, was to get WiFi working. The web interface to the router was not especially friendly, but the steps were straightforward enough:

  1. Click on "Wireless".
  2. Click on "Setup".
  3. Click on the check box next to "Enable AP".
  4. Click on "Apply".
  5. Reset the router.

Steps one through three went swimmingly. Then we clicked on "Apply", and nothing happened. Thinking perhaps that it was employing some subtle AJAX cleverness, we navigated away from the page, then back. And the change didn't persist.

"Confound it!" I might have said if my vocabulary weren't so vulgar. Thinking a change of browser might do the trick, we downloaded Firefox, washed, rinsed and repeated. The exact same problem was exhibited, only this time I could call up a Javascript console to see that a Javascript error was being raised every time I clicked on the Apply button.

"Blast!" I had no option but to download IE for Mac. (An aside: how come every other Mac application seems to come as a single file which you can drag to your Applications folder (admittedly nice UI, there), but IE comes with an installer (and no apparent uninstaller)?) To cut a not-especially-interesting story short, it plainly didn't work.

"Darn!" I was running out of options: when there was no apparent firmware update available, I came perilously close to hacking the Javascript in the web interface page or maybe hand-crafting the request using curl. Fortunately, we were able to borrow a Windows laptop, fire up IE for Windows, log on to the router and apply the changes. In short, it Just Worked.

With wireless working, all that remained was to set up WEP, which had to be done twice, as the router didn't appear to persist all of its settings across being switched off at the mains, but that's practically beside the point.

Therefore, dear consumer, if you do not possess some means or will to use IE for Windows, I would suggest that you steer clear of wireless routers based on Texas Instruments firmware (specifically the SOHOspeed ADSL Ethernet/Wireless Gateway (PDF)). Let this be a warning to you.








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